While millennials couldn’t imagine their lives without social media, and generation Z entirely grew up with technology, there are people who’re genuinely struggling to make sense of this whole new tech world. Just think of your grandma and grandpa searching for the letter T on the keyboard in what feels like a solid hour-long bender.
But hey, at least they’re trying hard, and some are even learning to share a story on Facebook, call via Whatsapp, and hang out on Zoom meetings. Well, maybe not the last one.
And there’s something so charming about elderly people navigating the complex terrain of the tech world that there’s a whole subreddit, r/oldpeoplefacebook, dedicated entirely to it. Created in 2013, the community has 1 million members sharing the fun, cute, and sometimes cringe-worthy moments of elders walking in the internet jungle. “Grandma and grandpa have finally joined social media, and they love sharing their opinions with everyone,” states the description.
And as your phone buzzes with a new notification from your grandma streaming live to show how pretty her re-potted geranium looks, let me tell you, this post—you can relate.
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According to a 2018 Eurostat study, 87 percent of people in Europe who are aged 75 years and over have never been online. This is partly because most current technology is designed in a way that relies on users’ ability to see, hear, and read. But many elderly are struggling to do so due to their age and health conditions.
Another study conducted by Pew Research showed that 23% of elderly people in US have a “physical or health condition that makes reading difficult or challenging.” Meanwhile, 29% said they suffer from “disability, handicap, or chronic disease that prevents them from fully participating in many common daily activities.”
The same study suggested that seniors would need assistance to learn to use social media or tech devices. Only 18% of seniors expressed that they’re comfortable with learning how to use a new technology device, and 77% said that they would rely on someone else helping them.
Emergency Assistance Needed
Among many reasons why seniors are less likely to learn to use technology are reduced mobility and reactivity. Some elders are less likely to absorb new knowledge since they never got accustomed to technology throughout their lives, so this is truly an uncharted and very challenging terrain for them. Others struggle with touch screens due to hardened hand skin, poor eyesight, and reduced reaction.
At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for being more accepting towards seniors using technology, even if it sometimes means you should overlook their not-always-perfect attempts to master it.